Trump’s private NATO trashing rattles allies

You’ve already read a hundred stories about President Trump’s clashes with some of America’s closest allies at the G7 summit in Canada. But we’ve got new details from his private conversations with heads of state that have put some of these leaders on edge leading into next month’s NATO summit.

What we’re hearing: In one extraordinary riff during his meeting with the G7 heads of state earlier this month in Quebec, Trump told the other leaders: “NATO is as bad as NAFTA.” An official read this quote to me from notes transcribed from the private meeting.

Behind the scenes: Trump made the comment after telling the G7 leaders that Crimea probably should belong to Russia because everyone there speaks Russian, the source added. Trump then went on his usual riff about Germany not paying its fair share of defense spending, said the Europeans weren’t paying enough and that the U.S. is being ripped off.

  • Then Trump said of the NATO Summit on July 11-12 in Brussels: “It will be an interesting summit. NATO is as bad as NAFTA. It’s much too costly for the U.S.”

Why this matters: NATO member states are worried about Russian aggression and they want an unambiguous sign that America has their back. By linking NATO to NAFTA — a trade deal that Trump considers an unmitigated disaster for America — Trump reinforced some of the Europeans’ worst fears that he’ll take a purely transactional approach to next month’s summit.

  • Officials from four NATO member countries have told me they’re worried Trump undercut the shared values and commitments of the NATO alliance by spending most of his time bashing NATO members for not “paying enough” and meeting their defense spending commitments.
  • Trump is broadly correct about the defense spending. Many NATO members have been shirking their responsibilities and are nowhere near their promise to spend 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product on defense.
  • But, as one senior European official put it to me: Trump could do a victory lap of sorts at next month’s summit, instead of bashing NATO members (which would please Putin.)
  • Trump, the official said, could point out that NATO members have been increasing their defense spending, and say that it’s only because of his pressure. The official said he hoped — but wasn’t confident — Trump would take this gentler, more diplomatic route.

When Axios shared this reporting with the White House, officials did not attempt to deny these specific comments that were relayed from notes from the G7 heads of state meeting. But NSC spokesman Garrett Marquis said: “The president engaged in a constructive dialogue with his counterparts at G7. Any allegations otherwise are simply wrong.”

1 fun thing: In the same meeting, Trump cracked to the leaders about what was then his upcoming Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un. “It’s like baseball,” Trump told the G7 leaders, according to the source reading from the meeting notes. “You never know if you are going to hit the ball.”

[Axios]

Kudlow: Trudeau ‘stabbed us in the back’

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow repeatedly accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “betrayal” and saying he “stabbed us in the back” for standing up to President Donald Trump after the G-7 meeting.

Speaking hours after Trump ordered the U.S. not to endorse the G-7 communique, Kudlow slammed Trudeau for a “sophomoric play” in holding a press conference after the G-7 meetings and saying Canadians “will not be pushed around.” Soon afterward, Trump tweeted that the U.S. would not participate in the G-7 communique agreed to earlier on Saturday.

“He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” said Kudlow, the White House National Economic Council director, speaking on CNN‘s “State of the Union.“

Kudlow, who said he was in the bilateral meeting with Trudeau and Trump, said the two leaders “were getting along famously.”

“We were very close to making a deal with Canada on NAFTA, bilaterally perhaps, and then we leave and Trudeau pulls this sophomoric, political stunt for domestic consumption.”

Kudlow told Jake Tapper he likes Trudeau personally, but that the Canadian leader was trying to score political points in attacking Trump.

“Trudeau made an error. He should take it back. He should pull back on his statements,” Kudlow said.

[Politico]

Reality

Trump left the G-7 and did a news conference bashing Canada on trade. Then Trudeau did a news conference in which he said the same things about the steel/aluminum tariffs he’s been saying for a week.

They were not close to making a bilateral NAFTA deal. He’s just making things up.

Ah, Kudlow finally explains what’s going on here: “Now, POTUS is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around, push him, POTUS, around, President Trump, on the eve of this — he is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea.”

So…per the White House, Trump is insulting the prime minister of Canada because he wants to impress Kim Jong Un.

Trump says he will put U.S. military on southern border

President Trump said Tuesday that he plans to deploy U.S. troops along the southern border to prevent illegal crossings “until we can have a wall.”

“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Defense Secretary James Mattis was sitting next to Trump when he made his comments.

Such a move would significantly escalate the U.S. presence along the frontier with Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol — not the military — is tasked with protecting the border.

Trump has recently reverted back to his hard-line stance on immigration, backing away from his efforts to compromise with Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Over the past several days, the president has closed the door to a deal to protect young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, called on Mexico to step up efforts to detail illegal border crossers and sounded the alarm about a so-called “caravan” of Central American migrants heading for the U.S. border.

“If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic…it’s like we have no border,” Trump said.

Trump tied the caravan to the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program that he ended last fall, even though it does not cover people who crossed the border this year.

The president is coming under mounting pressure from his base to secure a policy win on immigration, after he failed to secure $25 billion to build his proposed border wall in a government funding bill.

Trump even floated the possibility of pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico does not take steps to curb the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally.

The president on Tuesday claimed the caravan is breaking up “very rapidly” in part because of his threat.

Sending troops the border would be an unusual, but not unprecedented, step.

Presidents Obama and George W. Bush both deployed National Guard troops at the border to help stop illegal immigration. The temporary moves came as they were trying to win conservative support for immigration reforms that would allow millions to seek U.S. citizenship.

“The United States is not going to militarize the southern border,” Bush said when announcing the deployment in 2006. “Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend.”

[The Hill]

Reality

A defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity had no immediate details as to how many troops would be used, or what authorities they would have, but said the presence could be similar to the 2006-2008 patrols U.S. military personnel conducted under Operation Jump Start.

In that operation, President George W. Bush called for up to 6,000 National Guard members to secure parts of the border. Eventually 29,000 military personnel from all over the country were involved in the mission, which had a projected cost of around $1.2 billion in then-year dollars.

In 2012, President Barack Obama deployed Army forces from Ft. Bliss to the Tucson, Arizona and El Paso, Texas areas for Operation Nimbus, a joint operation between U.S. Northern Command and Customs and Border Patrol.

Trump just called off a deal on DACA

On Sunday, a little more than an hour after tweeting “HAPPY EASTER!” to his 49.8 million followers, President Donald Trump appeared to call off a major immigration deal.

“Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!” the president wrote, in part, referring to the Democrat-led initiative to protect the children of unauthorized immigrants from deportation. That was the first tweet, which seemed to call for the end of the filibuster in the Senate to pass tougher immigration laws and for the end of negotiations to get a deal on DACA.

The other two — where the president declared that people in Mexico were laughing at America’s immigration laws, and suggested that the international trade deal NAFTA might have something to do with that — seemed designed to further stoke traditional conservative fears that surround immigration.

These tweets are mostly typical rhetoric for Trump: He’s prone to suggesting that more immigration will lead to more crime and violence despite decades of evidence that more immigration does not correlate with more crime and may actually lead to less crime.

The DACA part, however, is new. Previously, Trump actually threatened to veto a budget deal — and shut down the government — in part because it didn’t include a deal on DACA recipients. Now he’s saying prospects for a deal are done.

Trump seems increasingly frustrated his agenda isn’t moving forward

According to a recent report from the Washington Post, the president has been frustrated that his proposed wall at the US-Mexico border hasn’t gotten much traction — lately, he’s turned to privately lobbying for the military to pay for it. As Tara Golshan explained for Vox, the military likely won’t be able to take up Trump’s request, because the money it’s been given by Congress is allocated for specific programs that aren’t the wall.

Trump’s new tweets also appear to come in response to reports that a huge caravan of Central Americans is making its way through Mexico to the US. The group is reportedly fleeing poverty, violence, and political unrest in the region, hoping to get asylum once they make it to America — although some have said they’ll cross the border illegally if necessary.

It’s unclear how federal officials will ultimately respond to the caravan. But Trump, at least, is using the moment to push for tougher immigration laws.

[Vox]

Trump suggests NHL owner could help him with NAFTA negotiations

President Trump suggested on Tuesday that Ron Burkle, a co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team, could help his administration renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

Trump during a White House visit by the Stanley Cup championship team praised Burkle’s negotiating abilities, and suggested that the billionaire investor could play a role in NAFTA discussions.

“Ron, how about negotiating some of our horrible trade deals that they’ve made?” Trump asked. “Here’s what I want, I want to get him. Oh, I would love to have Ron Burkle.

“And it’s great to have you Ron. But I really mean that, if you want to get involved in negotiating NAFTA, I like it. Because we’re renegotiating NAFTA, Ron.”

“Of course, he may not like that, because maybe he’s on the other side,” Trump added. “You’re not on the other side of NAFTA, Ron, are you?”

Burkle could be heard responding: “I am not.”

Trump has railed against international trade deals, like NAFTA, as “unfair” to the U.S. and has vowed to renegotiate them.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to visit Washington on Wednesday — a trip that will overlap with the fourth round of NAFTA negotiations.

Trump has signaled more recently that he’s leaning toward scrapping the trade deal altogether, telling Forbes in an interview published Tuesday that “NAFTA will have to be terminated if we’re going to make it good.”

[The Hill]

 

Trump Fails Knowledge of NAFTA in Campaign Announcement

Donal Trump announces campagin

Describing how he would negotiate with the CEO of an American car company that wanted to relocate to or build a manufacturing plant in Mexico, Trump had an imagined conversation during his June 16 announcement.

“I would call up the head of Ford, who I know,” Trump said, going on to say that he would say, “Congratulations. That’s the good news. Let me give you the bad news. Every car and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35-percent tax, and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction, and that’s it.”

Reality

That would, as The Washington Post‘s initial fact check stated, seem to violate the North America Free Trade Agreement (a treaty that Trump has openly disdained). It also does not take into account the fact that only Congress could establish separate tax rates under the Constitution.

Links

http://www.politico.eu/article/donald-trumps-11-worst-foreign-policy-gaffes-us-election-syria-mexico-iraq/